Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Body
How the Gastrointestinal Tract Affects the Entire Body
The GI tract is the gateway to the rest of the body; if our GI health is compromised, our overall health is compromised. That is why it is often the best place to start when evaluating treatment strategies to help our patients to feel better.
GI Disorders affect more people in the US than heart disease, AIDS and cancer combined. Over 74% of Americans have lived with some type of GI-related symptoms for more than six months. Next to the common cold, GI discomfort is the most common reason people seek medical advice or use over-the-counter remedies. Digestive disorders are the most common problems for which people visit their doctor or Nurse Practitioner. The conventional approach or treatment towards digestive issues often only temporarily suppresses the symptoms and does not treat the root cause(s).
No one is immune from the occasional stomach ache. However, prolonged or irregular issues with your gut and stomach could be the signs of serious digestive problems that require medical attention. Symptoms of these, and many other issues can also include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, belching, gas, abdominal pain, acid reflux, heartburn, GERD, and food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances.
Furthermore, serious stomach issues can reach beyond the digestive tract and lead to issues all over your body if it is not properly regulated.
Some examples of digestive issues that may require some type of medical attention include Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Leaky Gut Syndrome, Dysbiosis, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Candida Overgrowth and more.
Our Services Include:
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- GI disorders including bloating, reflux, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS and inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis)
- Food sensitivity – diagnosis and treatment
- High blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance (metabolic issues)
- Common skin disorders – acne, eczema, psoriasis
- Stress reduction
- Preconception care
- Autoimmune diseases including Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Nonhormonal treatment of perimenopause and menopause including hot flashes and night sweats
- Environmental allergies
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Headaches and migraines
- Sleep disturbances
- Weight management
- PMS and PMDD
- Chronic vaginal infections including Bacterial Vaginitis (BV), yeast vulvovaginitis, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
- Chronic pelvic pain including endometriosis, adenomyosis, interstitial cystitis, fibroids and vulvodynia.
Pillars of GI Health – Four Key Functions
Digestion and Absorption
Optimal Digestion means the capability to break down food and absorption of nutrients & energy substrates from the digestive tract. Digestion and assimilation demand optimal levels of hydrochloric acid, bile and enzymes. Shortage of any one of these components in your digestive tract can take a toll on your body. Optimal health is not just about eating healthy but it’s about proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients present in the food. That is why Gut Health is very important.
Our Digestive System plays an important role in maintaining good health & protection from diseases. Our Digestive tract starts from the mouth & ends at the anus. It also includes organs like the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. They aid in the digestion and assimilation of food.
Elimination and Detoxification
The digestive system is responsible for breaking down food, absorbing useful compounds, and eliminating the rest. The Digestive tract is exposed to food, bacteria, virus and other environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals on a daily basis. Exposure to environmental toxins has increased many folds in the past few decades. It is equally proportionate to the occurrence of chronic diseases.
The liver, together with the GI tract, is responsible for removing toxins in a process called detoxification. The function of elimination and detoxification involves removing the unusable portions of the food you eat, as well as toxins. It is essential that both be completely eliminated from your body through urine and stool; otherwise, toxins build up and are stored in your tissues. Poor dietary habits play a fundamental role in bowel health and regularity. Lack of adequate fiber and water is the biggest cause of regular constipation. Lack of physical exercise can also contribute to chronic constipation. The stool removes many liver-process toxins, so extended bowel transit times allow these toxins to be reabsorbed.
If the GI tract is not functioning well, an additional burden is placed on the liver. When incoming toxins exceed the liver’s ability to remove them, this is called a toxic burden. It is important to periodically restore the body’s ability to cleanse itself and eliminate toxins through a process called detoxification. This is usually accomplished by going through a detoxification program to eliminate common foods that cause sensitivities from your diet, including alcohol, caffeine, gluten and sugar and all processed foods. Removing these inflammatory foods from the diet can help alleviate the symptoms of brain fog, fatigue, digestive dysfunction headaches and food sensitivities.
The bacteria that live in the gut have a profound effect on the health of the entire body. This microbiome as its called aids in the production of nutrients, B vitamins and vitamin K, but can also affect someone’s risk for obesity or metabolic conditions. It is important to keep beneficial bacteria in balance and in plentiful supply to help regulate the digestive system and prevent GI illnesses. Many factors including stress, poor diet, genetic makeup, and prescription medications including antibiotics and steroids influence the balance of bacteria in the GI tract. Even harmless bacteria, in the wrong place, can potentially cause illness.
Dysbiosis is any microbial imbalance of the gut microbiome. When the microbiome is disturbed in any way, the body is susceptible or vulnerable to many GI disorders. There are several types of dysbiosis, including Candida, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and parasites. SIBO occurs when bacteria normally found in the large intestine travel up into the small intestine. From there they grow and inhibit the absorption of nutrients and the result is uncomfortable GI symptoms such as upper GI gas and bloating after a meal. Bacterial overgrowth is most commonly caused by the use of antibiotics, poor dietary choices, stress, excessive alcohol, acid-suppressing medications, poor digestion, chronic constipation or food allergies. The solution involves giving your gut healthy organisms and limiting harmful organisms from overgrowing. The best way to repair bacterial imbalance is great a healthy environment in which the bacteria grows.
The GI tract is one of the body’s largest protective cell layers, acting as a barrier between the internal body and the external world. It is critical function is to allow nutrients into the body, while stopping harmful substances from passing into the bloodstream. Increased intestinal permeability affects the GI tract and the immune, nervous and endocrine systems. There are many causes of increased intestinal permeability including chronic stress, toxin exposure, poor diet and dysbiosis. The GI tract houses approximately 80% of the immune system in the body. If this selective barrier function is not well maintained, a number of harmful substances may enter the body, triggering immune-related responses such as celiac disease, food allergies and Crohn’s disease.
Increased intestinal permeability or what is called a leaky gut syndrome, is a condition that occurs when inflammation causes the tight junctions between the cells lining the intestines to widen. Normally these junctions are very tight, forcing the molecules to pass through the regulated cell membranes of the gut wall. Patients with leaky gut syndrome have dysfunctional digestive processes because the intestines lose their ability to filter nutrients and other substances. When this happens, substances enter the bloodstream through these loosened junctions. These foreign substances can then cause inflammation within the intestines and inhibit digestion and immune function. When left untreated, the leaky gut syndrome can affect the entire body including the brain, skin, thyroid, liver, immune system, cardiovascular system and overall health. Healing the gut and repairing the gut lining can ultimately lead to improved health and quality of life.
The 4R Approach to Managing GI Dysfunction
A common approach we take to assess and treat GI dysfunction includes the 4R approach: Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair. The removing step removes toxic, pro-inflammatory and potentially allergenic foods from the diet, and eliminates harmful organisms. The traditional medical approach is to add a prescription medication to the body, but often the best medicine for the GI tract is to eliminate the problem and allow the GI tract to rest and heal. After the critical removal step, we then help by recommending the replacement of digestive aids such as stomach acid, and pancreatic enzymes to aid digestion. We offer digestive support at Green Bay for our patients through inoculation with pre-and probiotics to improve their microflora balance and then help them to repair their damaged GI tract lining through supplements, diet and lifestyle changes.
Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Body
Most people are not aware that uncomfortable GI symptoms can be just the tip of the iceberg. When these symptoms become chronic, they can lead to a myriad of health issues including allergies, inflammation, chronic fatigue, autoimmune diseases and neurological disorders, etc. So, when it comes to wellness, Digestive Health is of great importance.
At Wise Woman Wellness, our team is expertly trained to use various functional medicine tests to identify the causes of your digestive health problems and establish an effective treatment plan. These issues can be caused by inflammatory foods, structural abnormalities, increased stress, microbiome dysfunction, hormone imbalances, toxins, prescription medications, and a variety of other factors that need to be considered.
Functional Medicine at Wise Woman Wellness in Green Bay is what medicine should look like today. It’s a different, innovative, comprehensive approach to healthcare, emphasizing prevention and discovery of the underlying causes of illness as opposed to only treating symptoms.
Schedule a FREE 15 minute discovery call with Dr. Burnham, Naturopathic Doctor at Wise Woman Wellness!
Functional medicine providers, in addition to being licensed medical doctors or nurse practitioners, have completed the Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) training program through the Institute for Functional Medicine. The Institute for Functional Medicine is a non-profit organization that is accredited by the Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and is dedicated to educating physicians and other healthcare practitioners in Functional Medicine. There are more than 1000 providers in the US who have completed the AFMCP training.
Functional Medicine is what medicine should look like today. It’s a different, innovative, comprehensive approach to healthcare, emphasizing prevention and discovery of the underlying causes of illness as opposed to only treating symptoms.